Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
NEARLY 500 additional farmers in the breadbasket parish of St Elizabeth are to benefit from sustainable, subsidised irrigation water supply after the House of Representatives yesterday approved the realignment of the Pedro Plains (Beacon/Little Park) irrigation area and established the New Forrest/Duff House irrigation area.
Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke, who brought resolutions to the House, noted that the Pedro Plains (Beacon/Little Park) irrigation area, which was established in 2006, has served 306 farmers, who have more than 403 hectares under cultivation.
"This expansion is projected to serve a further 54 farmers and bring an additional 64 hectares of land under irrigation," Clarke said.
The minister further told the House that the New Forrest/Duff House irrigation project, which was commissioned in March, would be supporting 497 farmers and would see 398 hectares of land under irrigation.
The irrigation system, which is managed by the National Irrigation Commission, comprises wells, pumping stations, and conveyance pipeline systems.
IMPORTANT TO SECTOR
Opposition Spokesman on Agriculture J.C. Hutchinson said the projects are of vital importance to the growth of the sector. In lending support to the resolution, Hutchinson said it would assist in minimising glut as well as scarcity of crops such as Irish potato and onions, which are mainly grown in these areas.
"Usually, when we have rainfall, there is in that period, a glut; and with drought, there is scarcity. This will level off that sort of problem that we have," Hutchinson said.
Hugh Buchanan, the member of parliament for South West St Elizabeth, in whose constituency the Pedro Plains (Beacon/Little Park) irrigation area falls, said he would have loved to have seen the system further expanded into Flaggerman and Southfield.
The current expansion heads towards the Treasure Beach area of the constituency.